People all across Utah, Washington and the entire country have been in a state of shock and grief since the news broke that Josh Powell killed himself and his children in a heinous manner Sunday afternoon.
People have found themselves asking, How do I process these horrific events? Why do things like this happen?
There are some principles which might help you to make sense of it all, find a place of trust and peace, and let this experience change you for the better.
You must first understand the nature of life and why bad things happen.
Principle: The objective of being here is to grow and learn.
Life is a classroom and every experience is here to teach you something. Often the more terrible the experience, the greater the lesson. For me personally, I have felt a deeper appreciation for my spouse and children this week. I have a greater understanding about the depth of my love for them.
I’ve also discovered that my love for people (even people I don’t know) is deeper than I realized. I ache for the Cox family, and it is a beautiful thing to feel the depth of my love for my fellow human beings.
Principle: We have free agency.
In order for life to be a perfect classroom we must have free agency. For free agency to exist, evil has to exist. If the universe interfered or thwarted every evil act from happening, there would be no agency.
We are here to have a full good-and-evil learning experience, and that requires people being able to make terrible choices. It is what we signed up for (even though we don't remember doing it). This is the nature of this life, and we chose to trust that the universe has a plan and purpose for it all.
Principle: We cannot see the answer to why this happened, and we aren’t supposed to.
If we were supposed to understand why this tragedy had to happen, then we would. So I assume the universe has a reason for keeping us in the dark. I have also come to believe that maybe we are better off not knowing, and here is why.
Right now you are truly, deeply bothered by these horrible events — as you should be. If you understood the reason why this had to happen, if the mystery was solved and you got the answer, you might make peace with the horror of the situation. You might not be so appalled by it.
That may be even worse than what you are experiencing now. Watching this kind of evil and not being moved to tears by the horror of it — not questioning and feeling pain — would take away what makes you human.
Aron Moss wrote a wonderful article on this topic in which he explains, “Worse than innocent people suffering is others watching their suffering unmoved. And that's exactly what would happen if we were to understand why innocents suffer. We would no longer be bothered by their cry, we would no longer feel their pain, because we would understand why it is happening.”
Moss said, “Imagine you are in a hospital and you hear a woman screaming with pain. Outside her room, her family is standing around chatting, all smiling and happy. You scream at them, 'What's wrong with you? Can't you hear how much pain she is in?' They answer, 'This is the delivery ward. She is having a baby.' When you have an explanation, the pain doesn't seem so bad anymore. We can tolerate suffering when we know why it is happening."
But we are not meant to tolerate suffering.
If you understood the reason you might rationalize the horrible things and be OK with watching it happen. But as long as that question remains unanswered, you will strongly abhor evil things.
I think the question isn’t why do bad things happen to innocent people; the question is, more aptly, what do we do when horrific bad things happen to innocent people?
Principle: We are always better off choosing trust.
Chose an attitude of trust. It makes a huge difference in how you process these events. Trust the universe that it knows what it's doing. Choose to believe that even the things we can’t understand serve us for good somehow. Trusting brings peace.
Let these events make you a better, kinder and more loving person. Instead of trying to answer unanswerable questions, turn your grief into a force for good in your home and community.
Speak out against injustice and cruelty more often. Love people more passionately and take action to alleviate suffering wherever you can.
I love this statement by Moss: ”We don't really want answers, we don't want explanations, and we don't want closure… We want an end to suffering... but we [shouldn't] leave it up to God to alleviate suffering… He is waiting for us to do it. That's what we are here for.”
If you want to honor the memory of the innocent children lost in these horrific circumstances, then be a force for love in your world. Perform more random acts of kindness, pay it forward more often, and love the strangers all around you the way you love the Cox family and their grandsons today.
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of www.ldslifecoaching.com and www.claritypointcoaching.com. She is a sought after life coach and popular speaker. Watch Kim on KSL TV every Monday 6:15 a.m. Read her blog on KSL Today's webpage.
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.